Comings and Goings is a blog written by Theology, Worship and Education Director Charles B. "Chip" Hardwick as he travels throughout the church. God is on the move out and about in the world, working to redeem all things in Jesus Christ. As we join this mission, by the power of the Spirit we see God on the move. This blog contains glimpses of how Chip finds this to be true in his comings and goings.
You can follow Chip on twitter (@chiphardwick) or find him on Facebook (Chip Hardwick).
Today many Presbyterian Mission Agency employees took part in a Sabbatical morning, where we paused to connect with Christ as we begin 2016. The morning’s activities included an inspiring worship service and then the chance to participate in a number of activities and spiritual disciplines. One of the activities encouraged us to write our own Psalm. I wrote the following psalm for guidance, in a style sometimes used in the book of Psalms. Each line of the psalm begins with the sequential letters of the alphabet.
May God use it to grant you guidance.
An Epiphany Psalm for Guidance
As you look at my life, O Lord,
You know that I fail to follow you.
Back and forth I go, like a wave of the sea,
One moment faithful, the next astray.
Can you see in my heart a desire to serve you,
To look like your son Jesus and to join his mission
Do as I do what I do not want to do,
Do not as I do not what I want to do?
Ever merciful, you love me and the world
Despite all the ways we fall short.
Faithfulness is your nature, day in and day out,
Week in and week out, millennia in and millennia out.
Gracious One, you seek us like a father with a lost son,
Like a woman with a lost coin.
Hope is ours because while we were still sinners,
Christ died for us, and in power prays for us.
In this word of confusion and chaos,
Guidance can seem murky and unclear.
Justice falters, as we do not know what it is
Or how best to fight for it.
Knowledge of our own best decisions for our families and friends
Does not come when we want it.
Living out our call—where, when, how, why, what—
Questions that hassle and haunt us.
Make clear to us the path forward,
With your Word the true light.
Notice our confused longings for direction,
And be the way, the truth, and the life.
Overcome us with the clarity of your will,
Not just for us, but for all around us.
Please our hearts as we realize with confidence
That you will not lead us astray.
Quite calm we are with the guidance you give,
Once missing, now inescapably everywhere.
Revealed to us like the star of Bethlehem,
Drawing us to Jesus’ presence.
Stilly and silently we rejoice in what you provide—
Strength to follow the call you have given us.
Thrilled and grateful that you hear our prayers and answer:
When we ask for a fish you forego a stone.
Unshut our mouths and unbridle our hearts,
That we will proclaim your goodness aloud.
Vacuum up the hopelessness around us—
The confusion once undermining us.
Where there is doubt, despair, and hope,
Let us sow faith, hope, and light.
Xenophilia will come, as your Spirit overcomes,
So that your guidance is shared everywhere and right here.
You are our God of hope, Lord Jesus Christ,
Truth-teller and strength-giver.
Zero worries we have; no fears overwhelm
When your Epiphany streams down from the heavens.
“God’s Not Fixing This,” the headline blared.
The article responded to the mass shooting earlier this week in San Bernardino, and called out politicians who were asking for and offering prayers for the victims for not doing more to end the violence.
But, the NY Daily News is wrong about God not fixing this. Dead wrong. I-stake-my-faith-on-it wrong. It’s-Advent-After-All wrong.
I often call Psalm 136 “God’s Greatest Hits.” The psalmist begins at creation and recites all the ways that God has blessed Israel, moving through the Exodus, the wilderness wanderings, and the move into the Promised Land. The heartbeat of the psalm is the response, coming after each and every line, “for his steadfast love endures forever.” The first three verses establish the pattern that goes on to the end:
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
For his steadfast love endures forever.
O give thanks to the God of gods,
For his steadfast love endures forever.
O give thanks to the Lord of lords,
For his steadfast love endures forever. (Psalm 136:1-3, NRSV)
I gave a presentation to a group who have been spending six weeks covering issues of sexual integrity, in particular in respect to the LGBT community. They invited me to talk about gay marriage and ordination in the Presbyterian Church (USA). It gave me a chance to revisit an important paper that two of my colleagues, Charles Wiley and Barry Ensign-George, wrote after the denomination changed its standards on marriage from “a man and a woman” to “a couple, traditionally a man and a woman.” People often think about the PC(USA) as an affirming denomination in terms of LBGT issues. But our position is actually more complicated than that.
In my most recent blog post I quoted a piece written by my colleague Barry Ensign-George. As promised, I am now posting it in its entirety. I find it very inspiring about why God cares about diversity, and very helpful in its drawing this theological claim to workplace policies which are not always understood to be theological in nature.